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design and architecture




LADY OF THE RING Zaha Hadid’s legacy lives on through the silhouettes of B.zero1 Design Legend ring by BVLGARI. Words Martin Teo / Images Courtesy of BVLGARI

Bulgari is a leading order that defines ultimate luxury in the fashion kaleidoscope. On the other spectrum, the name Zaha Hadid spells a definite descriptive that underlines imperative architectural rudiments that grow out of a notion of poetry in motion. When these two ‘matters’ are placed together, expect nothing less than a pandemic phenomenon of super magnetic revolution that is set to get the entire world talking.



“Of course there is a lot of fluidity now between art, architecture and fashion - a lot more cross-pollination in the disciplines, but this isn’t about competition, it’s about collaboration and what these practices and processes can contribute to one another.” - Zaha Hadid


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AM-TAN SRI AR. CHAN SAU LAI ARCHITECTURE AWARD 2017 was recently awarded to Pamela Tan Poh Sin for her winning project – ‘The Soil City’. Held at PAM Centre he award ceremony was officiated and graced by Guest of Honour Y. Bhd Dato’ Ar. Dr, Kenneth Yeang King Mun. Founder of this prestigious award, Tan Sri Ar. Chan Sau Lai, who is an architect himself worked as an architect in the early years of his career and appreciates the challenges and aspirations of architects. Co-

organised by PAM (Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia/Malaysian Institute of Architects), the award witnessed a tremendous growth since its inception five years ago. It’s primary aim is to be an inspirational platform that recognises outstanding achievements in design by architecture graduates in Malaysia. 26-year-old Tan was ecstatic with her win, a clear homerun in the judges’ eyes. The University of Greenwich graduate presented The Soil City as an imagined future city where the once abundant natural resource of top soil is running out. The Soil City pictures that the extinction of top soil is imminent, and that a new civilisation has set about the difficult task of cultivating, and protecting, this newly valuable commodity. The project visualises a society which is structured around the high value associated to top soil, where the wealthy store miniature gardens in the vaults of the central soil bank, and where workers dredge through the domestic organic waste dumping grounds on the periphery of Greenwich Peninsula in an attempt to speed up the process of soil production. The Soil City takes a critical stance on dissolution of natural resources and the impending high value associated with its demise. While The Soil City celebrates all things of soil, it is also mired in a certain doom – an end to the natural growth of things. www.pam-tansrichanslaward.com

Images Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia & Pamela Tan


Soil bank and houses depicted and interpreted through the eyes of Pamela Tan, winner of PAM-Tan Sri Ar. Chan Sau Lai Architecture Award 2017.



Images ewins pte ltd

n conjunction with SingaPlural 2017, Ewins launched its flagship brand Veromobi’s latest Alba range of high-performance acrylic panel materials through a design installation by Italian architect-designer Egidio Panzera of Studio Architetto Egidio Panzera. Alba is a multi-layered composite panel made with an extruded high-gloss, high-resolution transparent acrylic layer, and a coloured acrylic layer. Its surface can be treated to achieve the desired glossiness (from non-reflective matte to mirror-finish); and to have properties such as scratch and wear- resistance, stainresistance, UV-resistance, and resistance to yellowing. With a better impact resistance than glass (25 times tougher than glass and 10 times tougher than tempered glass) and made to be water, grease and stain repellent, Alba is suitable for use as materials for interior walls, partitions, sliding door infills and kitchen backsplashes. Over the years, Egidio Panzera realised that behind every project, there are concepts, stories, and plots that take shape. Conceiving an installation that speaks today about the “stories” of future design increasingly means speaking about connections, relationships, and interactions. Egidio thus envisaged a basic volume of material, crossed by visual and physical relationships, by geometrical and textural syntax, by irony, and by curious glances. Just as a storyline is a sequence of events, design too is represented by the overlapping of hundreds of Veromobi Alba acrylic sheets. Each sheet is a twodimensional shape, an experience, and a word in the tale. Coloured, reflective, and interactive sheets to write on, draw on, or on which to simply leave a message for the next design “pilgrim”. www.ewins-group.com






panning three city blocks, Brickell City Centre will soon be home to more than 100 global and local retail brands, showcasing the best Miami has to offer – all in one landmark setting. Developed by Hong Kong-based Swire Properties Inc, along with retail co-developers Whitman Family Development and Simon Property Group, Brickell City Centre will fill the void in Miami’s retail landscape by bringing one of the most diverse offerings of over 100 luxury, contemporary, international and local brands to Brickell’s underserved financial district. “Brickell City Centre is certainly a first for Miami and will inevitably solidify the city as a true world-class destination. What we’ve done here is unique; there’s no handbook or manual for it because it hasn’t been done before,” said Stephen Owens, president of Swire Properties. “We have carefully created a vertical shopping experience that is very urban in its design, with many firsts and many internationally recognised retailers. I feel privileged to finally share with the world what we felt was always missing in Brickell: a destination.” After four years of construction, the expansive three-level, open-air retail centre unveiled

half-a- million square feet of high fashion, dining and entertainment, anchored by Miami’s first new Saks Fifth Avenue in 30 years and the country’s first CMX theater, a subsidiary of Mexico-based Cinemex, the sixth largest cinema chain in the world. In 2017, Brickell City Centre will also welcome Miami’s first Italian food hall, which will take up three floors of the project. The Centre joins the project’s other completed towers, including its two, 390-unit luxury condominium residences, REACH and RISE, two class-A office


buildings, which are leased so far by Akerman LLP and WeWork, Uruguayan restaurant Quinto La Huella and signature rooftop bar Sugar, both of which are located at Brickell City Centre’s flagship hotel, EAST, Miami. “Brickell City Centre is a destination in and of itself – with the hotel, cinema, and other attractions creating an environment where shoppers want to stay longer and make a day out of their visit,” said Debora Overholt, Vice President of Retail at Swire Properties. “We’re also looking forward to Brickell City Centre’s strong collection of men-specific retailers, with brands like Boglioli, Kiton, Baldinini, Stitched – which will have a scotch lounge – and Acqua di Parma, which will operate a barber shop within its store. BCC’s Saks Fifth Avenue will even have men-specific stylists and luxury dressing rooms.” The retail centre will seamlessly connect with Miami’s key transportation nodes. Swire Properties integrated the Miami Metromover with a stop that exits directly into the retail centre’s third floor to allow easy and convenient access. The retail centre will also ease vehicle movement with an expansive two-story underground carpark that traverses streets in the lower level. (www.brickellcitycentre.com) (www.swireproperties.us)



/ WANGARI MUTA MAATHAI HOUSE / Nairobi, Kenya Client / The Wangari Muta Maathai Foundation Boogertman + Partners Architects


Project Directors / Bob van Bebber, Johann de Wet Team /  Judith Paterson, Dilushka Barlow Site Area /  8.2 Acres Green Belt Movement Offices Area /  2.2 Acres


Wangari Maathai Foundation Area / 6 Acres


1. The Wangari Muta Maathai House courtyard approach as shown in the sketch. 2. An aerial view of the entire archetype portraying layers of circular rings.



he Wangari Muta Maathai House is envisaged as a living memorial - a forum for experiential learning for all Kenyans, Africans and peoples of the globe. Unfolding the life of Wangari Maathai, in an intimate facility, will enable visitors to understand her commitment to human rights, environmental conservation and promoting the culture of peace. Approaching the structural ring on foot, enveloped by the forest, one walks along the timber-decked route. Following the route, one crosses a body of water to enter beneath the structural ring, which floats overhead. The site then lifts naturally to support the underside of this ring and eventually envelope the auditorium component, at the rear. The circular form symbolises the simplicity embodied in the basic cycle of nature. The form, embedded within ethereal forest physically manifests the notion of ‘walks and talks’ – communicating the salient points of Wangari’s legacy - a childhood sense of wonder coalesced with the ethics of taking action. The open, encircled courtyard is the focus, as it maintains a connection with the trees. It contains the Amphitheatre, an informal raised berm and the Mausoleum, a quiet, subterranean space. The exhibition space, library, conference centre and functional areas are accommodated in the structural ring. The Wangari Muta Maathai House was selected as the winner in the Future Buildings: Culture category at the 2016 World Architecture Festival. (www.boogertmanandpartners.com)





he new Herman Miller Shop-in-Shop at XTRA’s new flagship store at Marina Square, Singapore, is a massive and intriguing structure. Occupying a 20m long by 7m wide space, the continuous surface stretches across the entire site like a sail of tensile fabric, leading the viewer from the low 3m entrance to the lofty 8m glass curtain wall at the other end. Fascinatingly, this structure is made of plywood. It is lightweight and features very little framework, symmetrical and takes on the proportions of the iconic curves of the Herman Miller logo. The minimal surface, which reminds one of German architect and structural engineer Frei Otto’s soap film experiments, contains a series of arches that frame the entrances and connections to the rest of XTRA, the street and the adjacent café. Pan Yicheng, Design Director of PRODUCE WORKSHOP and the designer of the space, has coined it “Fabricwood”. Being an established multi-brand furniture retailer in Singapore, the idea of a Shop-in-Shop is a response to XTRA’s desire to showcase a comprehensive range of Herman Miller products in a space with “flagship” capacity. After researching into Herman Miller’s main product range, – chairs – Pan found inspiration in their structural and material innovation – the use of moulded plywood produces light and elegant furniture; and their study of comfort and ergonomics in their office chairs resulted in an elastic mesh material that is stretched at the back of the chair to create a doubly curved, frameless suspended surface, that supports a full range of seating postures. To reflect the Herman Miller image, the lightness and warmth of the plywood material with the geometric rigour and technological innovations of the office chairs have been combined. And learning


from the key products and their design processes (which combines formal, structural and material innovation), the solution seeks to develop a soft and porous “skin” for the Herman Miller Shop-inShop that is “moulded” to its host. This is Pan’s second effort at an XTRA’s Herman Miller Shopin-Shop. Version 02 shapes the plywood using a tailoring technique called darting – which is more demanding to conceptualise and prototype. Originally used for shaping fabric to fit the human body, Pan exports this technique onto plywood. The darts and their respective angles on a flat piece of plywood determine the eventual curvature when closed. Circular cutouts are used at the converging point of the darts to allow the plywood to bend and avoid tears. When assembled, the structure forms a naturally undulated surface much like the ruching of fabric. The most challenging part of the project has been the translation from flat pattern drawing to three-dimensional modelling and vice versa. A combination of computer simulation (with new computational techniques) and physical modelling helped to achieve the desired curvature. The elasticity of the plywood played a major factor in the shaping of the skin, and the dart angles had to be re-calibrated to accommodate any changes in the type of the plywood material. Compared with conventional design and construction techniques, this component-based design process demands greater continuity and simultaneous planning across all stages of the project. The new Fabricwood structure pushes the boundaries of plywood construction. This is a project that is not just about the completed structure but also the entire experimental process to arrive  at it. (www.produce.com.sg)


1. The rippling on the surface increases the appearance of “softness” of the plywood making it appear like a stagnant moment of a sail caught in the wind.




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ith the rise of exclusive wellness retreats and sublime spas, Jean-Michel Gathy, master architect of Aman Sveti Stefan, Montenegro; Amanyara, Turks and Caicos; and Aman Venice Italy shares his design inspiration behind the creation of environments of rejuvenation and relaxation. Belgium-born Gathy discovered his passion for geography and architecture as a young child during the wake of numerous family trips. At the age of nine, he was entrusted with the responsibility of organising family holidays across Europe. He identified and visited structures and landscapes emblematic of each country. The 62-year-old architect left Belgium for Asia in 1981 after graduating in 1978, spending most of his life in Asia, and the last 22 years being in Malaysia. He founded DENNISTON in 1983 as an architecture office with a specific niche market, specialising in the


creation of innovative designs for up-market hotels and other establishments in the hotel sector. The Aman Sveti Stefan in Montenegro was constructed out of a 15th Century fortress. Gathy and DENNISTON drew inspiration from historical features and contemporary reinterpretations while preserving cultural and heritage elements. The property is divided into two distinct halves comprising 50 rooms and villas as well as eight magnificent suites. It is said to be the most beautiful in the Adriatic. Each room is designed with an elegant décor in offwhites and neutral tones. The 1,600sqm spa offers treatments following a holistic personalised approach with natural Aman products and outdoor terraces for relaxation. The Amanyara is set amidst the western shore of Providenciales, overlooking the pristine reefs of the Northwest Point Marine National Park, Turks & Caicos.


1. Looking into a villa in the Amanyara, Providenciales, Turks & Caicos, which is said to be one of the most exotic retreats in the world. 2. The man behind the designs of these exclusive wellness retreats, Jean-Michel Gathy. 3. The breathtaking azure views from the Adriatic Suites of the Aman Sveti Stefan, Montenegro.


4. The Library of Aman Venice, Italy combines the rustic beauty of the ancient city and elegant chic finishing.

Gathy was drawn by the nature and serenity of the island; incorporating Zen elements and natural materials into the resort’s design. The décor is contemporary-chic and minimalistic. The circular bar’s dramatic, conical roof is Amanyara’s signature feature. The 40 pavilions at the resort offer panoramic views of the azure waters. The teak terraces and spa pavilions further enhance the calming atmosphere of the beautiful sea-facing Amanyara. Aman Venice is an iconic setting in one of the most-visited historical city in the world. Housed in the 16th Century Palazzo Papadopoli, Gathy integrated the existing décor with sculpted marbles, mouldings,

frescoes and woodwork to create an expancse of opulent historic splendour. The original décor and the 24 suites have been enhanced by modern details and technology. The magical view of the Grand Canal is breathtaking while the gardens and wellness experience ensure that this Venetian hotel is the place to soak in inspiration and relaxation at the same time. Gathy have also a series of distinguished designs in his portfolio, spreading around the world including the Marina Bay Sands with its 200-metre pool that overlooks the fantastic panoramic views of Singapore. (www.denniston.com.my)



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1.The back addition houses the family room, cladded in standing seam copper. 2. Thermal modified wooden siding framed by white metal cladding of side walls and roof.


INTERTWINED SPACES Designing around a rhombic elevation with contrasting interior configurations, the 46H is a fresh reinterpretation of a century-old house. Words SARAH NH VOGELER / Photography Alex Lukey & Silverhouse

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n retrospect, a century-old house will never survive the 21st Century. Taking the easy way out, most people would simply demolish and build a new structure. Staying truthful to its design credo, German Architect Felix Leicher of baukultur/ca has recently transformed a 110-year-old house into a contemporary, chic and highly sustainable home that exudes an understated elegance throughout. And even though it is strictly modern in style, its exterior complements the traditional Beaches neighbourhood beautifully. baukultur/ca was established in 2014 in Toronto as a boutique development company with the mandate to create ambitious and unique spaces of the highest architectural standards. The man behind the company understands architecture as an important part of human culture and therefore


sees their projects as contributions to the public dialogue about architecture. Each creation enhances the cityscape, thus having a positive impact to the urban development. During the design process, baukultur/ca explores the existing structures and urban context to create stunning modern spaces exceeding today’s standards and demands of the modern urban living. The designs are driven by the effort to create open, bright, modern but also comfortable, liveable and functional spaces. Using the newest technologies and expertise, the team behind baukultur/ca supports sustainable designs without neglecting the cultural knowledge of previous and current architectural philosophies. Furthermore, buildings are objects of daily use, which have to function and comfort at the highest levels.

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PRAGMATIC APPROACH Starting with a blank canvas, the Courtyard House opens up endless possibilities in redefining new meaning to its internal spaces. Words Martin Teo / Photography Edward Hendricks


1. The front elevation resembles stacks of contemporary blocks, juxtaposed to create a clever use of spaces and voids. 2. The living room oversees directly the dining space, both set in a linear layout plan.


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racticality creates sustainable living. In a family home, the keyword to a comfortable and liveable space is pragmatism. While a large residential building program may pose cumbersome requirements, a practical sensibility ties the whole idea together. In this corner terrace located within the suburban residential district of Singapore, the owners – a multi-generational family of busy professionals – have clear intentions of the house being designed with efficient use of space and practicality as priorities. At the same time, they want something unique. “The clients initially had an ambitious idea to build a 3-storey high waterfall feature together with an equally expansive green wall,” reveals Tan Cher Ming, Principal Architect at Ming Architects. Having managed to shelf the waterfall and green wall ideas away due to concerns over maintenance hassles and other prevalent worrying issues, Tan is given carte blanche to express his creativity and develop ideas that echo the owners’ sentiments. And to compensate the lacking of vertical elements (with the multi-story waterfall ideas scraped), a double volume courtyard is introduced into the space. Deemed the most charming space in the house, there is no wonder why this name of this project is coined the ‘Courtyard House’.


Curating Spaces Sitting on a very long and narrow site, the original house was not built to its optimal capacity and had inherent problems of inadequate daylight, ventilation and space restrictions. The clients also faced issues of low ceiling heights and insufficient rooms to cater for their growing family. Tan shares that to avoid repetition of the issues faced by the original house, they made sure that the new house is designed to address the issues as optimally as possible, adding that they were glad that it turned out well. Setting itself apart from its neighbours, the first thing that can be seen when approaching the house is a sleek, robust linear architecture with multiple punctuation of varying sizes. The exterior is complete with balconies and timber screens on both its longitudinal and front façade. The cool sleek white façade, which features a consistent chamfered wall detail, is complemented with warm timber tones and further softened with tasteful landscape works. Together, they cohesively create a simple yet sophisticated outlook. The impression of the house’s external outlook is cool, calm and collected. Interior wise, it is a visual feast. Greeting at the entrance

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3. Wood nuances on the ceiling exude an intense sense of warmth and homeliness. 4. The void space here creates an airier and lighter configuration for the family house. 5. The dining and kitchen are decked in white marble and infused with beautiful wooden tones.

of the house is a visual layering of spaces, of which spaces superimpose one another. The spaces are cleverly curated, traversing elegantly to create something different from typical corridors. The living, dining and courtyard areas feature sliding-folding glass doors that glide across the entire length of the room. When the doors are tucked away, the boundaries blur between the spaces and the respective building programmes come to live. The generous use of full-height sliding glass doors also offer and extend inviting views and physical connectivity to the outdoor swimming pool. Courtyard Charm “Perhaps the most charming space of the house is the courtyard, which looks like it came out of a movie set,” shares the architect. Flanked between the koi pond and the swimming pool, the double volume courtyard breaks the monotony of spaces in this


linear house. It also allows ample daylight to permeate into the key living spaces, creating beautifully lit area for the enjoyment of the family. Spanning 3-storey high, a grand steel staircase feature floats above the koi pond, with a handmade vertical feature wall of specially selected black river pebbles. Across this dramatic architectural space, a narrow bridge cantilevers over the courtyard and ties the front and rear wings of the house together. It is here that the owners and their children’s family centre. As such, the courtyard becomes a fulcrum to the house where both horizontal and vertical movements are endless. It is quite easy to read the spatial planning. The living being directly opposite the dining area, separated by the open courtyard, provides a direct flow while looking rather spacious. Decked in Burmese Teak wood strips from floor to ceiling, there is a sense of directional quality to this communal area. The space is demarcated using materials on the floor; an alternate of wood and marble.

Tan Cher Ming, Principal Architec Ming Architects

“Perhaps the most charming space of the house is the courtyard, which looks like it came out of a movie set�



Never a full moment, the dining is a stunning feature in the house. Selected marble against the dry kitchen wall creates visual impact, accentuated by the eccentric hanging lights. Wishbone chairs around a sleek black dining table present an expensive and elegant setting in the almost-white space. And the pool next to this area seals the deal. On another floor, the bedrooms are simply exquisite. The master chamber opens up to a zen-like setting but tantalises with a spectacle of marble fiesta. The walk-in vanity ensuite bathroom, decked in Carrara marble is designed with such flair and poise. The way the space is demarcated is synonymous to a high-end loft in star-studded hotel chains. The interior colours and material palette are similar to the exteriors. The fine balance of cool and warm is achieved by the combination of beautiful materials like pebbles, Shanxi black granite, Italian White Carrara marble and teak timber wood. Plants, both potted and in pre-casted planters further soften

location Site Area Building Area Completion Architect Lead Architect Design Team Project Team Contractor C&S Consultant Quantity Surveyor Landscape Exterior Finishing Interior Finishing

Toh Yi Road, Singapore 397.2 m2 632.3 m2 2016 Ming Architects Tan Cher Ming Erica Chan Tan Cher Ming, Erica Chan Praxis Construction Pte Lt JS Tan Consultants Pte Ltd WS Surveyorship Pte Ltd Nyee Phoe Flower Garden Pte Ltd Burmese Teak timber, brick wall in plaster, paint Italian Carrara marble, Burmese Teak strip flooring & ceiling, plaster walls



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LUXURIOUS MINIMALISM Impeccably designed with all round wellness in mind, here is a retreat that pampers not only the body but also the senses with its contemporary luxe interior. Words Jade Ang / Photography Virginia Cucchi


PAVILION PONDEROSA location Site Area Building Area Gross Floor Area Completion Architect Lead Architect Design Team Project Team Contractor C&S Consultant Exterior Finishing Interior Finishing Landscape Awards

Johor Bahru, Malaysia 37,460 ft2 2,046.07 ft2 3,340 ft2 2016 PCA Architecture Paolo Cucchi Paolo Cucchi, Virginia Cucchi Zailani Architect Telford Signature Sdn Bhd Perunding TLK Sdn Bhd Tecnomarmo The Wall Gallery-Novacolor PCA Architecture First Prize Annual Grand Prix International Academy of Architecture – Sofia 2015 Winner Asia Pacific Property Awards, Best Single Residential Unit, May 2016 Honorable Mention Perspective EU, 2016, Venice Finalist Archmarathon-Marmomacc, Verona 2016



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1. A slight elevation to the main pavilion makes it appear as if it is floating ever so elegantly atop the water. 2. Slim pendant lights hang above the black marble bar counter, subtly matching the black handles on the cupboards behind. 3. The interiors boast a modern twist to simplicity. 4. Featuring a row of bamboo plants and the calming sounds of running water, the little terrace is a delightful secret enclave.


reativity really knows no bounds, especially when it comes to building designs but every once in a while, one with a simple yet striking design comes along and takes your breath away. Such is the case with the Pavilion Ponderosa, a project, which spans across 0.86 acres of land inside a high-end gated area, just next to a prominent golf course in Malaysia. While the land space is vast, the actual pavilion takes up only one half of the land; the other is occupied up by a beautiful swimming pool as well as some other recreational facilities. Besides requiring a prestigious pavilion and recreational parts, the client’s brief also states the need for the building to be a regenerative retreat and a structure that could release expansiveness and enclosure. Surrounded by nature all around, the obvious challenge is to capture the essence of the ‘place’ and strike a balance between nature and modernism. Commissioned to overcome


this obstacle is Paolo Cucchi Architects (PCA), a multi-disciplinary architectural practice with almost three decades of experience. Founding principal and design director Paolo Cucchi obtained his Master of Architecture Degree at I.U.A.V. – University of Architecture of Venice. Based in Italy and Malaysia, the firm’s commitment is to produce architecture of quality, with attention to detail and exploration of materials. All Lined Up Precision is at play as sleek straight lines come together to form the single storey pavilion, which stands ever so majestically in the center of everything. The firm’s attention to detail assures us that much thought is put into each and every element from the central positioning of the pavilion right down to the perfectly manicured flat lawn. Enveloping the main structure, travertine slates not only add texture but also helps the building to blend in a little more

Paolo Cucchi, Founding Principal and Design Director Paolo Cucchi Architects

“Surrounded by nature all around, the obvious challenge is to capture the essence of the ‘place’ and strike a balance between nature and modernism”



with the natural surroundings amid its organic appearance. As the travertine extends to the swimming pool steps and finds its way into the pavilion, there is a sense of continuity that just flows beautiful effortlessly. Expansive glass doors are perfectly positioned in the middle of the rectangular shaped pavilion to take advantage of ventilation and stunning views of the surrounding landscape. These sliding glass doors open up the centre of the structure and the boundaries between indoors and outdoors are blurred as we can see right through to the other side. A slight elevation of the main pavilion ensures that internal ventilation is maximised. From certain angles, the pavilion appears to be floating ethereally above the pool. Exquisite Spaces Stepping inside the pavilion, division of space draws clear lines between communal and private spaces. The heart of the building serves as a communal centre with the living and dining spaces while



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GRAND MANOR Grand Hyatt Chengdu recalls the leisurely lifestyle of the Sichuan capital, interpreted through the oeuvre of tonychi. Words Rebecca Lo / Photography Durston Saylor


1.The exterior façade of Grand Hyatt Chengdu designed by architect Goettsch Partners. 2. Ground floor lobby is embellished with floral paintings by artist Carlos Arnaiz.


ncient Sichuan wisdom proclaims that Chengdu is an ideal place to spend retirement. The provincial capital’s relaxed combination of tea, mahjong and spicy hotpot culture means that its citizens take pride in living well. With 3,000 years of continuous settlement dating back to the ancient Shu civilisation, Chengdu’s geographic location in China’s centre has long made it an important gateway to the more sparsely populated western lands. Yet unlike first tiered cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, Chengdu’s development has been more organic and gradual. As the city continues to solidify its reputation as western China’s technological and financial hub, international five-star hotels are popping up in response to the booming number of visitors into the city. One of the city’s latest offerings is Grand Hyatt Chengdu, situated in the central Jinjiang district, on the fashion and tourist boulevard of Chunxi Road. Owner Chicony Dalu Enterprise secured Hyatt International as the operator for the 30 storey hotel on top of its nine storey retail podium,


and enlisted the services of New York-based tonychi to design every aspect of its interior. After eight years of delays due to governmental hiccups, not to mention an upgrade from Hyatt Regency to Grand Hyatt, the hotel finally opened in July 2016. The 390 room property is inspired by Chengdu’s long history and culture. Chi finds a lot in common between traditional Sichuan courtyard houses and French country chateaux. “The initial vision was a property for visitors for various purposes: business, leisure, lifetime celebrations, family gatherings—a property celebrating Chengdu with its rich cultural and culinary heritage renowned for a relaxed lifestyle, and its openness and curiosity towards other cultures as a result of its long history as a trading centre,” recalls Chi. “Although (the hotel is) sizeable, we wanted an intimate, elegant, sophisticated, comfortable and transforming (experience) for guests and visitors.” In efforts to establish continuity between the ground floor entry and the 15th floor check-in lobby, Chi links them with significant art

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pieces. From oversized floral paintings by artist Carlos Arnaiz on the ground floor lift lobby to a trio of porcelain clad sculptures greeting visitors upstairs, the art programme is carefully selected to reflect Sichuan culture. “The artwork chosen breathes fresh, invigorating life into Grand Hyatt Chengdu,” explains Chi. “Chengdu’s rich history is retold in the photography upon the tea room walls. Adorning every room, every corner, are cultural Chinese artefacts, each with their own unique history to share.” East and West Similar to both Chinese and French residences, the tenth floor’s layout is a series of interconnected spaces that gradually unfold. “The arrival to Grand Hyatt Chengdu is the common room welcome we extend to every guest,” Chi elaborates. “Upon arrival, there is no rush, no pressure to check in. Instead, we welcome guests to rest and rejuvenate, take in their surroundings and breathe. The elevator lobby exudes the warmth and sincerity of a grand foyer.” From Salon, the living room of the hotel with double height ceilings against expansive glazing, guests enter Nougat, a petit

bakery more akin to a jeweller’s shop decked out in hand-painted and embroidered Chinoiserie wallcovering. Nougat opens onto Putao, an inner courtyard landscaped with jambolan trees. To one side is Xi-Mi, a cabaret fashioned lounge with plush semi-circular banquets adjacent to a feature wall of album covers; Xi-Mi opens to the Maze Garden edged with four-metre high yew plum pine hedges for a romantic escape. Meanwhile, an outdoor barbecue terrace sits underneath a serpentine canopy, leading to Grand Café, the hotel’s all day dining featuring double height displays of decorative bird cages. Rounding out the areas on the 15th floor is the elegantly appointed Tea House featuring wooden Ming chairs, vintage tables and a tea bar. The hotel’s signature establishments continue one floor above. No. 8 specialises in the region’s pleasantly numbing hotpot cuisine by displaying all the essential ingredients upon entry, while the Steak House allows for table side preparations with grey marble clad stations and adjacent glass cases. To underscore the domestic ambience while alluding to typical Sichuan homes, Chi opts for hardwood flooring to dominate both public areas and guestrooms. “Hardwood floors are a signature


Tony Chi, tonychi & Associates

“And from the Nougat patisserie table, I am the conductor before a symphony of hospitality”

3. Feature wall in Grand Hyatt Chengdu’s all day dining restaurant Grand Café showcases a double height display of traditional birdcages. 4. Tea House on the 15th floor includes Ming chairs and other antique furnishings along with a dedicated tea bar. 5. Palais is a flexible ballroom on the 12th floor that can be subdivided into three smaller function rooms.


element of Chinese homes,” explains the designer. “Grand Hyatt Chengdu is an oasis, a sanctuary in a bustling city crafting tranquility through the use of all that is natural.” Throughout the property, Chi incorporates birdcages and horses as design motifs in displays and guestroom features such as table lamps, to reference their local significance. “Take a walk in the parks and markets of Chengdu, and you will likely see people carrying birds in their cages—what a refreshingly genuine display of hospitality,” he exclaims. “In ancient Chinese literature such as The Book of Changes, horses are symbols of royalty, honor and education. They carry us and assist us as partners—an embodiment of hospitality.” Chi admits that if he had to pick one spot as his favourite, it would be Nougat. “Every chance I had, I would dine and relax around the long central table, where I could smell the rich aromas and watch guests,” he reminisces. “I see myself not as a designer, but a composer of life,” Chi states. “And from the Nougat patisserie table, I am the conductor before a symphony of hospitality.”



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WAREHOUSE REVIVAL The last conserved warehouse in Singapore now restored wonderfully with a brand new purpose, in true representation of the island’s culture, heritage and context. Words Martin Teo / Photography The Warehouse Hotel & Darren Soh


1. The original archetype facing the river, restored and brought back to life. 2. The main lobby transforms from a naturally lit open space that is relaxed and composed to an upbeat energetic chillout zone with glitz and chicness at night.


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he waters, in its stillness, harbour deep layers of memories. The stories of traders from the east bringing silk and opium to the tales of the west, carrying some form of civilisation with new cultures, unseen by the locals back then. The hub of the Straits Settlement is busy with mercantile activities, secret societies and rampant trades of spices, raw materials and manpower. The water ripples as the quayside awaits its next boat to dock. As I gaze into the meandering river from the working desk in the guestroom of The Warehouse Hotel, a blurry image slowly becomes evident. The waters remind me of the once vibrant and illustrious verve this place used to be. Sited in a conserved building off Robertson Quay, The Warehouse Hotel’s roots extend far back to Singapore’s trading history dated as early as the late 19th century. The original building has gone through several phases in its existence. From a typical warehouse to an opium den, to


a factory and then a place of entertainment, it is quite a bizarre combination of building programs. Makeshift interventions have been taking place internally since then but its distinctive façade remains majestic. Three warehouses have been combined and outfitted, starting a new lease of life as a 37-room boutique hotel. Combining Singapore’s rich culture, history and talent with high design and comfort, this independent heritage property is standing tall as a pride of the people behind this amazing project. “We acknowledge the rich history of the building, having been used, at various points in time as a godown, a disco and left largely to disuse in the past decade amid all the development along Robertson Quay. Its new incarnation as a boutique hotel with plenty of heritage touches also seemed like an opportunity to ensure that the last conserved warehouse in Singapore was sensitively restored and retained,” clarifies Architect Randy Chan of Zarch Collaboratives, whose team are involved in the restoration of this historical building.

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3. Within this open space, a sense of liveliness speaks for itself throughout the day. Each element is specified to carry sentimental meanings to each phase of the original warehouse. 4. Staying true to its streamlined uniformity, the concierge is put together using a series of lines. 5. The exterior entirely in white.

Distinctive Dominance The hotel fronts the Singapore River with a distinctive, symmetrical façade and jacked roofs while original design elements like louvred windows, doors, cornices and mouldings are sensitively and meticulously restored. “Much of the building’s original façade, including a set of Chinese characters on its leftmost gable wall were restored to their original glory, with attention being given to the mouldings and fenestration. We also ensured that the key elements of the original warehouse building, particularly the trusses that leaves a tangible reminder of the old were restored and constantly kept in sight throughout the building,” shares the architect, focusing on the pitched trusses. Entering the lobby is indeed a breathtaking experience. There is a whale of a difference being in this warehouse configuration when compared to being in common commercial spaces. Its majesticity is explored with beautiful warm tones and copper nuances. The lobby lights, inspired from pulleys and wheels from the good old days draw immediate attention. A double-volume space greets


guests at the lobby, with the original warehouse trusses, refinished in black spanning the communal space from one end to the other. The triple Howe trusses, originally constructed in repeated formation, are evidently visible in the lobby where these iron structures marry old-world charm with modern chic. In some rooms, these triple Fink trusses can be seen punctuating the room spaces; reminding guests of the hotel’s former days. Natural light filters in through the jack roofs in the daytime, while new portal frames serving as discreet structural interventions fringe the lobby space, providing a clear access and line of sight to the waterfront. While one can be lost trying to find the best spot to lounge, I am immediately drawn to the cluster of charming taupe sofas that reminds me of the retro 70s. The spatial configuration of the Hotel sets the entryway in the middle of the volumes, while the rooms are split into two wings, with high-ceilinged corridors leading to the double-volume rooms on the second storey. The rooms are suffused with natural light through a combination of the existing fenestration, skylights and the use of glass blocks; the trusses and portal frames are kept

THE WAREHOUSE HOTEL location Site Area Building Area Gross Floor Area (GFA) Completion Architect Interior/Branding Contractor C&S Consultant Quantity Surveyor Landscape M&E Consultant Lighting Consultant Acoustic Consultant

20 Havelock Road, Singapore 1536 m2 1153 m2 2102 m2 2017 Zarch Collaboratives Pte Ltd Asylum Creative Pte Ltd Towner Construction Pte Ltd JS Tan Consultants Pte Ltd QS Consultants Pte Ltd John Lim Icon Engineers LLP SWITCH CCW Associates Pte Ltd


in sight throughout the circulation spaces as well as the rooms, puncturing walls and lines of sight, creating a curious spatial dialogue while accentuating the character of the warehouse’s former life. A new extension complements the strong silhouette of the main wing, housing an elevated infinity pool as if hovering just above the Singapore River, provoking visual interest at the corner of the street. Chan describes that the pool is his favourite space in the hotel even though the intervention is both challenging and fulfilling. “We’ve created an extension to the hotel that presents the image of a pool that seemingly floats above the river. The actual pool deck also presents to guests a context to the hotel, and is a space where one can find a meaningful relationship to the city,” he confides. Extending the visual (and tactile) connection to the waterfront, consideration is also given to the selection of finishes surrounding the development including the pavers at street level selected to match those along the promenade of the Singapore River, and the salmon pink tiles used in the



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1.The Korean-themed private room is laden with pink nuances against a playful atmosphere. 2. K-Pop phenomenon, Psy is immortalised on the brick wall.

THEMATIC RUMBLE Young Malaysian designers bring new life to the city of Phnom Penh through an up-cycled thematic restaurant. Words Martin Teo / Photography heartpatrick


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dapting a new brand into a third-world city is not easy. The introduction of a new concept and an unfamiliar jargon like ‘Samba’ in Cambodia may be an uphill task but for Matthew Lim from MLA Design, it is a challenge that keeps him and his team ever-motivated to achieve greatness in this project. There is a lot of adapting to begin. Adapting simply means being responsive to various issues that affects the planning and execution of the entire project. Given that the site is located in a small city in Cambodia, the Malaysian designer has to respond to the site, resources and manpower, budget and the building programme. Samba Elite Brazilian BBQ Steakhouse is not any restaurant in town. Despite being in a small town in Phnom Penh, the


eatery is rather sizeable. Spreading over 26,000 ft2, Lim has to figure out a clever way to demarcate the space while providing a fair share of spatial values, light and comfort to the customers. “It is a space within a space. We created pockets of space within the rectangular layout plan, ensuring an easy flow of traffic while maximising every corner of the restaurant,” shares Lim during a recent presentation. The entire downstairs consists of dining areas, both public and private ones. Various dining zones are created to serve customers with different requirements. Whether they are coming as a family, a one-to-one dining or require a special private room, everything is designed to cater for tailored needs.

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The overall restaurant design aims to create a unique and extraordinary dining experience for the customers. “As they enter the restaurant, they will be greeted by an oval shaped BBQ preparation showcase in the centre of the restaurant. The preparation area is designed to subtly showcase the unique BBQ-making processes and to bring awareness to customers on the Brazilian BBQ culture,” explains Lim. Fresh Renewal “We ambitiously filled the massive space with bold design using mostly recycled materials and very limited resources. As technology and manpower is very constricted, we had to make do with whatever we have and what’s available,” confides Lim. At the open dining space, the lightings are all salvaged from a stadium light setting. Given a new purpose, the lights are lined up to accentuate the different sections tastefully. X beams usually used for concert sets are also used to layer the ceiling design with support


and texture. At some corners, there is a sense of industrialism in the restaurant. One corner feature more polished sensation of royal orange with a punch of sleekness in the interior space. Doused in sunlight, the dining space is quite a comfortable open place with great layout planning. Around the perimeters, decorative filters control the filtration of light; keeping the space conducive and slightly private both day and night. The tables are all made of recycled wood. Juxtaposed in a tasteful way, the dining sets look both refined and interesting at the same time. “We had to propose a realistic plan in terms of building and finishing materials. We need to maximise the resources readily available in Phnom Penh without having to neglect the design impact. It was tedious work but exciting at the same time,” confesses Lim as he shares his experiments with very limited resources. Individually Themed Upstairs, each room is designed thematically to cater for different

Matthew Lim, Founder & Interior Designer, MLA Design

“As technology and manpower is very constricted, we had to make do with whatever we have and what’s available.”

3. An oriental affair is one of the most flattering theme to accentuate an Asian sensibility. 4. A decorative feature made out of Heineken bottles. 5. Red lighting exudes an enigmatic expression of a midnight rendezvous at Samba Elite.


6. The amazingly retro toilet blends colour, playfulness and whimsy together in a clever way.

5 SAMBA ELITE BRAZILIAN STEAKHOUSe location Building Area completion Designer Lead Designer Design Team Contractor Awards

Toul Kouk, Phnom Penh, Cambodia 26,000 ft2 2015 MLA Design Matthew Lim Matthew Lim, Yii Si Lin, Liekee Ooi Sebastian Koh A’ Design Award 2016 AYDA Asia Young Designer Award 2016



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7.Around the dining areas, salvaged industrial light fittings can be found dotting the ceiling space, repurposed as new lighting fixtures. 8. The Brazilian theme shines through with the use of hut-like trimmings along the ceiling. 9. The latticework filters sunlight into a magical display of shadow and light.

needs and preferences by high profile customers. From oriental Chinese style to a K-Pop inspired room, each space embodies its own aesthetics. In a realistic world, it is rather difficult to put spaces of absolutely contrasting styles together in a space. But in this restaurant, there is a cohesion that wraps the entire spaces together. Possibly through the well-designed communal areas or even how private the different rooms are. Each room is well portioned from around the corners of the large layout. The Military themed room stands out immediately with its viridian green tones and hanging airplane models. Camouflage prints deck the walls and doors as a literal muse. The Japanese room is decorated with the Torii, lanterns and sakura-filled umbrellas. Walls are layered with textures of bamboo for a tatami-inspired space with orange being the core theme.


Over on the bottom left corner, the K-Pop inspired room shouts for attention. Charming in vivacious red and light blue, the room pays tribute to the father of ‘Gang-nam Style’. Korean words and graphics are used to celebrate the vibrant vibes of entertainment. As a whole, there is more than what the restaurant is about. The colloquial and the elevated sides of the place counter-balance each other. While one may see this place as a run-on-the-mill restaurant, the conception process of this building is something worth knowing. “The most challenging part of the project is to recruit skillful builders to incorporate trendy building materials into the design. We had to resort to furnishing the spaces with basic construction materials and methods. And with a little bit of imagination, the outcome is rather fascinating,” summarises Lim.

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SINGAPORE’S SENSATION Celebrated star designer, Chris Lee of Asylum talks of his inspirations, uniqueness and future aspirations. interview Martin Teo / Photography Yang Tan


Who is Chris Lee? I’m the founder of Asylum, a multidisciplinary design studio based in Singapore with a global footprint. Some of our notable projects include the world’s first Hublot pop up store, branding for the National Gallery, designing flagship Johnnie Walker Houses around the world, including many airports, and most recently The Warehouse Hotel where we did the branding and interior design. I started Asylum in 1999 after heading the design department of Ogilvy & Mather and Bartle Bogle Hegarty because I wanted to create a studio that could create great work for independent clients.

Speaking about the Warehouse Hotel, a building that transcends over 100 years old, many of its historical features may already go through makeshifts that somewhat, have corroded its authenticity and unique Anglo-Chinese flair. What are the interventions and design solutions that took place to keep the building’s original charm? Being sited in a conservation building meant that we had to keep many of the original elements intact. We kept the original facade and trusses so that the authenticity of the building remained. What we had to do was to discreetly add portal frames to ensure the structural integrity of the building. Part of the intention was also to have a double volume lobby so that we could visually connect the external and internal experience.

What are your daily routines when you’re not at work? I travel, spend time with my family and hang out with friends. Possibly, catch up with all my reading as well. The feathers on your hat translates a long list of achievements and milestones from design education, conferences, talks to winning Designer of the Year for the President’s Design Award. What are you aiming next? I don’t think there was a target when I started the studio and I don’t think there will ever be one. I hope that interesting projects will keep coming to us and as long as we continue to be relevant, and for our works to continue to gain recognition in the industry and beyond.

What is the driving force that keeps you going when things get excessively challenging? Every project is inherently challenging but I’ll like to think that we have the ability to transform cities, to add to the cultural fabric and touch people’s lives.

What was your experience growing up in Singapore? What parts of your childhood have had the biggest influence in your work and creative approach today? My generation has seen drastic changes in this country, we grew up when the nation was at its infancy and to see it become what it is today is nothing short of miraculous. If there is a Singaporean trait, it is our resourcefulness and can-do attitude. Many of the pioneers in the design scene created what we have from a barren environmental. There wasn’t a creative scene till about 15 years ago! I grew up listening to independent music and there was a label in the UK called 4AD and they used to create the most amazing music covers. I was deeply influenced by it.

Where would be your top 3 mustvisit places in Singapore to get ideas and inspirations? The best places to get ideas are cafes. Just park yourself in one of the tables and dream away. My favourite cafes are Brawn & Brains, Curious Palette and Ronin. The ground shakes upon hearing your name. You have a commanding presence in the industry and your works speak for itself. As one of the most influential and game-changing icon in the design industry, what are the important values that one needs to endow in order to be successful and amiable, always? Ha… that is definitely a myth. We live for the next project. I am constantly thinking how and if we are still able to make a positive contribution. The day I stop making that contribution is the day I stop designing.

Your works have a unique flair and a certain something that appeals to both industry players and the general audience. In your own words, how do you keep this appeal relevant in your design schemes? Marry art with commerce is one our strong traits I guess. We always design for the audience and in all instances we want to be as original as possible. Being well travelled is an advantage cause I am kept abreast of trends happening around the world and what to avoid.


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PLANT WHISPERER Author and plant artist, Satoshi Kawamoto of GREEN FINGERS can, not only demand a second look with his tattoos and handsome chiseled face, his artisanal expertise with plants is also demanding the world’s attention. Words Martin Teo PHOTOGRAPHY JJ Jimenez & Eisuke Komatsubara


Plant artist, Satoshi putting final touches to his creations for Adidas Original in Tokyo, Japan (2015)

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? I started in 1997 when I participated in the launch of Globe Garden in Mishuku, Tokyo to establish my own garden style. GREEN FINGERS was founded in 2002 and after several years in the industry, I opened GREEN FINGERS MARKET in New York City in 2013. Currently, I own 10 stores in Tokyo and New York. I’ve also extended my portfolio and ventured into a wedding brand – FORQUE, on top of other various creative works I do for installations, spatial styling, and product development of various genres including plants. And since 2009, I’ve published five books including the series of DECO ROOM with PLANTS.

There are not many prominent plant artists out there. How do you put yourself in a different light to stand out from the rest? I wish to do things that nobody does, and I believe I am doing just that. I believe I will continue doing so for as long as I am here. Are there any people you look up to in your life? No. The only thing to do is to grow myself. I hope to be somebody that others look up to and try to be like. Besides plants, what are your other interests? It would be working out, fashion, and traveling, as reflected frequently on my social media page.

What was your experience of growing up? And how did your childhood influence your work artistry today? My life has always been surrounded by plants since when I was a child. My grandmother’s house is one of the most memorable places, where there were many plants on the balcony. I used to ask my grandmother a lot of questions about the plants. Probably the reason why I was hooked at a young age.

How important is social media in your field of work? Social media is a great tool that let many strangers see who I am. I have received many messages through Facebook and Instagram, some of which have led to business.

What inspired or got you into being a plant artist? Since I started working with plants, I encountered a book called “Derek Jarman’s Garden”. I was in complete shock as soon as I looked at the book. I have always wanted to show people a new perspective that nobody has ever expressed. That’s how I got where I am now.


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How do you start your day? I drink a cup of coffee as I gaze at my garden. This routine allows me to feel the changing of the seasons. Which city do you prefer: New York and Tokyo? I like both cities. They each have their own good and bad aspects. It is certain though, that I want to continuously impress people in both cities through plants, and that is why I go back and forth between those cities quite frequently. What are the essential qualities to have in order to be a good plant artist? It is probably to fully express oneself. Originality will not emerge out of mimicking others.  In your field of work, can you describe your design process and how do you actually use plants to express your aesthetics and point of view? When I do installations, I create a rough sketch first as I think about the materials I might use and things I want to express. After I gather all the necessary materials, I get carried away in working with the materials. While I express myself in the work I create, I also make sure to keep in mind the client’s taste while blending it with my own aesthetics.


Profile for Design and Architecture

d+a Issue 097  

Architecture is built to provide better living and architects are doing their part in conveying a certain level of uniqueness to keep new bu...

d+a Issue 097  

Architecture is built to provide better living and architects are doing their part in conveying a certain level of uniqueness to keep new bu...